Tag Archives: contemporary fiction

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Recommend If You Never Read X 8/5/14

toptentuesdayThis week The Broke and the Bookish want to know what we would recommend to people who never read X. I solved for X and came of with recommendations in a variety of genres.

If you never read TEEN HISTORICAL FICTION, try these:

1. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. Josie is the seventeen-year old daughter of a prostitute. It is 1950 and the French Quarter is home to organize crime, brothels, and bars. It is also home to the small bookshop where Josie works. The money she earns there will be her ticket out of the Big Easy. Her dreams are close to becoming reality when her mother is implicated in the death of a tourist. Plenty of local flavor, a murder mystery, and a girl with big dreams make this one a winner.

out of the easy

2. In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. In 1918 Americans were dying at home and abroad. At home the deadly Spanish Influenza pandemic had the nation gripped with fear. Abroad, WWI would eventually claim the lives of 110,000 Americans. In San Diego, sixteen-year old Mary Shelley Black watch as streams of mourners turn to seances and spirit photographers to contact their dead loved ones. The historic photographs only enhance the haunting text. A hint of romance and a whole bunch of creepy!

shadow of the blackbirds

3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. The year is 1914, and Europe is on the verge of a war. Prince Alek, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne is on the run from the Clanker Army. Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, is an airman for the British Air Force learning to fly the genetically engineered air beast, the Leviathan. The two form an uneasy alliance as they struggle to protect their secrets and stay alive. Leviathan will appeal to readers of science fiction and steampunk, but one can argue that it also has a strong historical component!

leviathan

4. In Darkness by Nick Lake. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, a teenaged boy is trapped alive in the rubble of a hospital. Alone in the dark, “Shorty” counts the story of his life, his involvement with a gang, the family members he lost, and all of the violence he witness and caused. Along side his story, readers learn the story of Toussaint L’Ouverture, a Haitian rebel who led a slave rebellion and helped to drive Napoleon and the French out of Haiti. This powerful story is truly deserving of the Printz Award.

in darkness

If all you know about TEEN CONTEMPORARY FICTION is John Green, you need to branch out and try these:

5. Reality Boy by A.S. King. Seventeen-year old Gerald Faust was the child star of a reality TV show. Twelve years later, Gerald is still haunted by his anger-filled past. Convinced that nothing will ever change, despite the fact that he works so hard to be nothing like that TV boy, Gerald is ready to snap. When a new girl at work shows interest in him, he is naturally weary. He tries to avoid her, with no success. This book is disturbing and heartbreaking, like most A.S. King’s books. However, her characters always manage to find some thread of hope, some form of redemption or have some realization that things can get better.

reality boy

6. Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. Callie has spent her entire childhood on the run. Kidnapped from her family by her mentally ill mother, she can’t even remember what it is like to be normal. When her mother is finally arrested, Callie is reunited with the father she doesn’t know anymore. Living in a small town with big family is overwhelming as Callie has to learn to live in the present and be a part of a family. This one is gritty and sexy!

where the stars still shine

7. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. Eighteen-year old Leonard Peacock plans to spend his last birthday on earth saying goodbye to the four people he cares about. Leonard is sad and weird and the target of his former best friend’s torment. He has had enough and he has a plan to put an end to all of the pain he is in. This is a powerful and haunting novel.

forgive me leonard

If you don’t read TEEN SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY because you think it’s all supernatural romance and Hunger Games-type dystopian, think again and try these:

8. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. In an alternate reality past, the American Isles are being threatened by Wild Chalklings (yes, chalk monsters). Rithmatists have the power to bring two-dimensional figure to life to battle these creatures. Joel, the son of a chalkmaker, must satisfy is desire to learn Rithmatics by sneaking into lectures at the Armedius Academy. When students start disappearing, leaving trails of blood behind, it is up to the Rithmatist to solve the mystery. As the professors work to find the missing students they also discover that Joel, despite not being one of them, has some unique talents of his own. Unique, unusual, steampunk-ish.

rithmatist

9. BZRK by Michael Grant. In a not-so-distant future a battle is taking place. What is at stake? The human mind. Free will. The combatants? On the one side you have the batsh*t crazy conjoined twins, the Armstrong brothers. They want to create utopia. Opposing them is a radical fringe group known as BZRK. The battle ground is the brain and the weapons are nanotechnology. Things end one of two ways: victory or madness. This series is both exhilarating and terrifying.

bzrk

10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This fractured fairytale of a story features a cyborg Cinderella, a handsome prince, a wicked stepmother, and an evil Lunar queen. An orphan and a cyborg, Cinder is a second-class citizen, but she is also a gifted mechanic. It this skill that brings the young Prince Kai to her stand at the market. A malfunctioning android, a mysterious plague, and the threat of war loom large and Cinder may be the key to saving everyone. Fans of sci-fi and fairy tales alike will love this fresh twist on a classic story!

cinder

Happy Reading!

∼Megan

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Winter Town by Stephen Emond Review

Here it is, the first book review (and the first book read) of 2012. I am congratulating myself for picking this wintery book for a wintery weekend read. Further thoughts:

Winter Town by Stephen Emond is the past, present, and future story of Evan and Lucy. The teens have been best friends since childhood, despite the fact that Lucy has lived in Georgia for the past five years and only returns to Connecticut for winter break. The winter of their senior year everything changes. Lucy has a new look and a new attitude that Evan does not understand. Something is wrong, but Lucy won’t talk about it. Putting his misgivings aside Evan struggles to find the “Old Lucy” and rekindle their friendship. The result is a heartbreaking romance and doubts about everything Evan believed he wanted.

I have mixed feelings about this book, but in the end I was able to overlook the things that bothered me and enjoy the story. I really liked the comic strip and illustrations throughout the book. Evan’s comic strip does an excellent job of filling in some of the story that I feel is missing from the narrative. Evan and Lucy are both likeable characters, despite being underdeveloped. It’s difficult to put my finger on the exact problem, I just wanted more from and about them. The secondary characters, however, really shine. Evan’s friends seem to bring out the best in him and make him more likeable in my eyes. I did not particularly like Evan’s parents, which is unusual because I love a story with a stable family, but Gram is a gem. She is smart, wise, and unconditionally accepting of both Evan and Lucy. It is refreshing to get a male point of view, especially on relationship issues and I appreciated Evan’s initial willingness to follow the path that he thinks has been decided for him. He is a good kid who gets good grades, and is eager to please his family, but he doesn’t seem to realize the price he pays in order to please others. Lucy wants to be a good kid, but can’t get over the injustices she has suffered and lashes out. Both teens feel trapped in roles that they did not choose for themselves, but together they may just figure things out. Overall, this is a touching look at childhood friends struggling to stay connected and figure out what they want out of life. I found the ending and the extra material satisfying and I love the cover. It fits the story beautifully. I will recommend this to fans of contemporary fiction and non-sappy romances.

Things to be aware of: smoking, drinking, and a mention of sex. Nothing graphic.

Readalikes: Paper Town by John Green, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, and Every You, Every Me by David Levithan

Happy Reading!

˜Megan